UPDATED: Wear Once and Toss

It’s been over seven months since I started my quest to thin out my closet (see more on that here), and I’m happy to say that I was pretty successful.  In case you don’t remember, my goal was to wear everything in my closet at least once before allowing any repeats.  Now, as you may recall, anything I didn’t feel good in, or didn’t fit quite right, or I didn’t want to wear had to end up in the donate pile . . . and here’s where that donate pile started seven months ago:

Only six items, so kind of a weak start.  But here’s where that pile stands now:

Sorry for the crappy picture quality.  In my quest to go fully manual on my DSLR, I’m afraid that my pictures have suffered.  But regardless, you can see that I’ve got way more than 6 items now, right?

You can even see wear my pile started on the bottom left . . .

Now, I’d be lying if I said I was 100% successful in my quest–I think everyone out there can relate to having those one or two pairs of jeans that make you feel like your butt is all that and a bag of chips, so how can you only wear them once?!  I mean, I’m only human.  So yeah, there were some repeats.  But there were also some pleasant surprises–when you’re forced to wear everything you own, you learn that some of the stuff you never wear is actually kind of fun to wear.  So all in all, it was worth doing.  Plus, when you have beautiful spacious closets like these, well, you just don’t want to clutter them up . . .

So I’m not sure if I’ve spilled the beans before on our Master Bedroom closets, but they’re sort of awesome.  And we have a whole wall of them in our bedroom (isn’t it crazy to look back at all that blue carpet?!  Yikes!).

And awesome they are because they’re filled with cool built-ins like shoe storage . . .

And dresser drawers . . .

And long continuous shelves for my oh-so-anal-organization-of-sweaters-by-color (I know, I know, I need to branch away from grey and black) . . .

And don’t worry about Mr. Bunches–I didn’t monopolize all the closet space.  Nope, he has his own little slice o’heaven . . .

So there you have it–an update on my wear-and-toss project and a peak into our closets.  Hopefully this will inspire some of you to purge some of your own clothes . . . what better time than now, right?  I promise you’ll feel better once you’ve trimmed down.

Anyone else have any tricks to purging unnecessary stuff?

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Put a Cork in It

Even though our to-do list seems to be growing at breakneck speed around our new home, somehow I find myself getting preoccupied with small projects.  Maybe because I can feel accomplished that something gets finished?  Even though it’s entirely not necessary, critical, or even (the Mr. might argue) even beneficial in the tiniest way?  Hmm . . . maybe it’s just my way of procrastinating on the big projects.  Like those two brand new toilets that have been sitting in our garage for a few weeks waiting patiently to be installed.  Yeah, that’s probably it.

Nevertheless, here are some details on a random project that I undertook during the middle of unpacking the kitchen.  That’s right–I stopped unpacking the myriad of kitchen gadgets, dishes, food-stuffs, and all things useful so that I could get this pressing project completed.  So what was so pressing?  Or at least pressing in my procrastinating mind?  Well, it was lining drawers.  Specifically, these fancy kitchen drawers with built-in dividers:

Who knew that behind this dated facade there was some serious forward-thinking function?!

Kitchen

But I’ll divulge more of that later.  For now, let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two drawers underneath the cooktop had built-in drawer dividers.

Awesome, right?  Yes and no.  Yes because I have a ton of gadgets and cook’s tools that need organization; and no because, upon closer inspection, they were a bit chewed up and nasty-looking.

While I’m all for getting more fiber in our diets, I’m not that keen on getting it in the form of fibrous wood splinters.  So of course I needed to do something immediately.  I was just NOT going to unpack anything into those drawers until the situation had been remedied.  Again, we’re talking some serious unpacking procrastination going on here . . . 

So what did I do?!  Well, I remembered that years ago I had bought some cork tiles . . . See, I had a grand idea of making some cool DIY corkboard wall . . . 

Image from here.

Needless to say, though, it didn’t happen.  Instead, I had five 12 x 12 cork tiles that remained unused in a plastic storage bin with a bunch of my other crafty/DIY project supplies.  But alas–now I had an idea!  And those cork tiles would finally be used!  Oh happy day.  And so, just this once, hoarding craft supplies paid off.  Take that Mr. Bunches!

Shockingly, I was able to lay my hands on the tiles pretty quickly, and then I just gathered some other tools–basically a pair of scissors and some junk mail.

I used the junk mail to make templates of each area I wanted to cover with cork . . .

And then just cut out cork pieces to match the templates.

Since the pieces were just the right size, and about a 1/4 inch thick, all I had to do was slide them into place and they stayed put–no glue or tape needed.

You can also see in those pictures that I used a plastic drawer liner to line the bottoms of each section.  I picked up the liner during our trip to Costco, and I just cut it to size and laid it down.

Easy-peasy fix to some seen-better-days drawer cubbies, huh?

So once I finished my 30-minute diversion project, I could finally put stuff in those drawers.  Hallelujah.

Now I can rest easy that I won’t end up with wood splinters in my next batch of brownies.  Oh, and no judgments on the number of measuring cups I have . . . I use them all–I swear!

Anyone else find yourself procrastinating on big to-do items so that you can accomplish seemingly trivial and unnecessary smaller tasks?  Or is it just me?

Okay–new posts soon on our finished hardwood floors and some other home updates . . . stay tuned!

Kitchen Remodel Vacation

How does that sound to you?  Awesome, right?  You’d totally pay for the experience, wouldn’t you?  Like one of those vacations where you really just go and work for someone else–like on a farm or in a winery or what have you.  Who came up with that brilliant idea?  OH wait–maybe it was the farmers, winery owners, etc. looking for some free labor . . . duh.  Anyways, I was out of town last week for work and luckily I got to spend the long weekend at my sister’s house remodeling her kitchen (you had to see that coming, right?).

So I don’t want to steal her thunder since I’m sure she’ll do a more detailed post on her blog, but here’s just a little of what we accomplished for less than $200.  (And please forgive the minimal pics–again, not trying to usurp my big sis.)

Where we started (this is what the kitchen looked like over a year ago when they bought the house):

So I think my mom might be the only one to disagree, but aren’t those cabinets just hurting your eyes?  It’s hard to tell in those pictures, but trust me–they had some serious orange-shininess happening!  Straight from the 90s (or maybe just straight from Texas since apparently my sister said every house they saw had cabinets like that)?    Anyways, ever since I first visited, I have considered it my own personal mission to refinish those cabinets.  I’m not kidding–I had dreams nightmares about those things!  It was a good thing that my sister agreed that they were awful (although I was so determined that I’m not entirely sure her opinion would have really mattered).  So over Labor Day weekend we transformed them.

First step?  Sanding.  Ugh.  We thought we could avoid the whole sanding issue by using Rust-Oleum’s Cabinet Transformations, but after doing some research it was clear that Rust-Oleum’s kit was not going to give us the solid white/cream look we were going for.  Apparently, Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformations are a stain-based product, so to get a solid finish (we didn’t want to use a glaze for that weathered look), it would have taken at least four coats and even then it was unlikely that the color would have been exactly right.  Good thing we did some research, huh?  

Here are the cabinet doors all sanded and awaiting a coat of primer:

There were a LOT of cabinet doors.  And this picture doesn’t even capture all the drawers!  I’m getting tired again just looking at this.

Oh, and I took care of doing all the sanding outside.  It’s basically a pretty messy process.  Which is probably an understatement.

Anyways, once everything was sanded, then we primed ‘em up.  I’m pretty much a pro at priming now (remember that room of paneling in our new house?  Well, let’s just say it was a priming disaster, but more on that later).

Oh, and I forgot to take pics of all the steps, but here’s the primer we used.  It’s Zinsser’s Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Base Primer.  The paint guy at Lowe’s said it was the best (are they paid to say stuff like that?).

Image from here.

Once we applied one thin and even coat of primer, then we started with the paint.

We originally went with Lowe’s Olympic No-VOC Semi-Gloss paint color-matched to Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White (the trim in my sister’s house isn’t pure white, but more of a cream, so we wanted to match it and Cloud White was the closest paint chip we could find).  So we painted the cabinet doors and the cabinets themselves.  Then we realized that the color was wrong.  It wasn’t color-matched perfectly, and so it was WAY TOO WHITE!  Ack.  So we stopped.  Breathed.  Had a snack.  And decided to pick a new color and send out my brother-in-law to Sherwin Williams.  New color?  Sherwin Williams’ Creamy.  Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Sorry about the small swatch, but that’s apparently as big as SW shows on their site.  Image from here.

And we just wanted the Harmony paint (Sherwin Williams’ no-VOC brand).  Image from here.

But since we weren’t the ones at the paint store, it ended up that Josh got up-sold.  To Sherwin Williams ProClassic in Semi Gloss–a paint specifically made for cabinets and trim.

Image from here.  It was actually a good decision–the paint levels to a really smooth finish, so it ended up looking great.  We didn’t have any brush strokes or anything!

So now that we had all the right paint, it was, well, back to painting.

And painting . . .

We were tired.  Very, very tired.

But don’t they look great?

My sister was totally pumped!  It was like she got a whole new kitchen.

Once we let everything dry for a while (probably not long enough, but I had a flight home to catch and I was getting impatient–I wanted to see what it all looked like put together), we put the cabinet doors back up.  And then we decided to add hardware to match the rest of my sister’s home (it’s all oil-rubbed bronze).  So off to Lowe’s again for the 825th time.  But the hardware really made a difference:

These pics were taken at night, so they read a little darker/creamier than in real life.

We weren’t able to get all the drawer pulls in before I left, so I don’t have any completed pics.  For that, you’ll just have to keep checking my sister’s blog for final reveal photos.

Overall, though, it was hard, but totally worth it!!!  We loved the result.  And who knows . . . maybe the Bunches’ kitchen will be next . . .

Don’t Go Against the Grain

Sometimes it pays to stay in line.  And wood floors is one of those times where going against the grain is bad.  REAL BAD.

So what exactly is that line across the grain of our newly sanded floors you ask yourself in a politely quizzical tone. (Yeah, I’ve decided that today you will be politely quizzical . . . tomorrow you may be something totally different, but I’ll keep you posted.  Don’t you like how I’m controlling all your moods?  I thought you did.)  Well, that is a deep scratch courtesy of the crazy barbarians who installed carpet on at least three separate occasions in our house (learn more about said barbarians and our battle with their staples here).  See, apparently they used a carpet blade (basically a heavy-duty exacto knife) to cut the carpet padding while it was on the wood floors.  So these lines tend to reappear about every six feet or so (since carpet pad is six feet wide).

So what’s the big deal you say?  (Again, in your politely quizzical tone o’ the day.)  Well, since our wood floors are only 3/8″ thick red oak, it means that deep scratches like this can’t be sanded out.  And so they’re there.  For good.  And it means that the decision between darkly stained and natural floors (discussed here and here) just got a whole lot easier.  Why?  Well, turns out that dark stain highlights any and all imperfections in wood floors.  And that means those against-the-grain scratches, if stained dark, would appear as solid black lines on the floor.  And since they’re everywhere . . .

. . . that means that dark stain is a no-go!  :(  And just when I had finally made the decision to stain the floors dark, and I went to my floor guy to tell him too!  Talk about a bummer, huh?  BUT, since the decision was such a hard one to make, it meant that I did really like the natural floors.  And since leaving them natural wouldn’t highlight the scratches, I was definitely okay switching my decision back to team au naturel!  (Plus, that’s the way you guys saw it too–just check out the Bunches of Joy poll results here.)

Oh, and now that the sanding has begun, I had a little sneak peak at how great they were going to look.  Check it out:

Don’t they look amazing?!?!  They’ll obviously be a little darker once they get three coats of penetrating oil and a good wax buff, but they’re so much better already than the orangey-hot mess where they started. 

So there you have it.  A final flooring decision.  What do you think?  Are you so politely disappointed that you can’t bear to read any more?  Or are you thrilled with the decision and waiting on the edge of your seat to see the final results?

Fixing a Weeping Wall

When you find a weeping wall in nature, that’s a good thing (we found one here and it was awesome).  But when you find one in your house?  Not so much.  Some of you might remember that we mentioned a problem with our garage wall that was discovered during the inspection (discussed here and here).  Here’s a lovely shot of the rot wall:

And remember that little diagram I drew up explaining the issue?  You don’t?  Okay, here it is again:

Clear as mud?  Excellent.

Well, now that the patio has been dug out to a lower level (here’s the latest shot of how it’s looking) . . .

. . . hopefully the underlying cause of that rot has been solved.  But, our contractor still had to fix the ailing wall.  And fix it he did!  These pictures are actually kind of old news now since the wall was done only three days after we closed on our house, but I thought I’d share them anyways.

First up, Steve had to tear down all the drywall and check out the extent of the damage.

The studs were actually in better shape than expected, with only the ones to the far right (and in the closet way on the right) having any damage.

Lucky for us there was a closet since it was that post (the white wall-looking piece in the right of the picture above) that was basically supporting the bulk of the second story.  Oh, and see how damp the ground is?  It hadn’t even rained recently and it was still all wet.  Ick.

Yeah, so the bottoms of the studs were rotted out, and the footer (the stud that goes along the bottom) was completely rotted.  So it was a good thing we took on this project.  And as if this wasn’t proof enough, halfway through repairing the wall there was a major thunderstorm with torrential rains.  Those rains turned out to be a little blessing in disguise.  (Now that we’ve bought a holy house, there seem to be a lot of little blessings coming our way–guess all that sunshine pouring out of the Mr.’s butt is just keeping on.)  Why?  Well, cuz the rain showed us this:

Can’t tell what that is?  Sorry–it was a thunderstorm after all and I was in the back of the garage, so the lighting stunk.  Those are water droplets pouring through the concrete wall and a little stream flowing behind the newly laid footer (made out of pressure-treated lumber, so the water won’t affect it).  Isn’t that crazy?!?!  That’s what we call proof beyond any doubt that the wall had water issues.  It felt good to have a little reassurance that we were doing the right thing and not just jumping the gun.

Anyways, Steve sistered new studs to all the old studs and laid down a new footer.  He also chopped off the bottoms of the old studs so that in case there is ever a water issue again on the garage floor (which there shouldn’t be since we’re fixing the patio, but just in case), the water won’t weep up the old studs and cause them to continue to rot out.

See how the old stud bottoms have been chopped off?  And new studs attached to their sides (that’s called sistering apparently)?  And a new footer?  Oh, and also all new R15 insulation.  Not too shabby, eh?

Steve also had the good idea of covering the back wall with plywood instead of drywall.  It may look unfinished, but it allows us the flexibility of hanging items on the garage wall in any location we want (instead of trying to find studs).  Pretty smart, huh?

He also added two new outlets for us, so now we have three outlets on that wall!  That will be perfect for when I’m out there widdling.  You know, like maybe one of these for our now-empty backyard . . .

You know, from a solid piece of wood.  In my spare time.  Widdling.  Or “carpentering” as Gaylord says.

Anyways, here’s the final wall all sealed up:

Oh–and yeah, those of you who are observant probably noticed the huge pile of carpet.  This pic was taken just this past weekend when we ripped out all the nasty carpet to expose our beautiful hardwood floors.)  Looks good, huh?  Steve even trimmed it out with some quarter-round along the edges to give it a finished look.

So there you have it–weeping wall fixed, and super-functional garage wall added.  Progress, progress, progress.  Love it!  Now if only our patio can get finished by Friday . . . fingers crossed!

Online Shopping Deals

With the move into our new house looming just around the corner, the Mr. and I have been readying ourselves with some Internet comparison shopping.  See, we already know that there’s going to be a lot to buy . . . yard tools, paint, a new kitchen, toilets, furniture, and all the random stuff that you don’t know you need until you move in.  And since we tend to over-research every buying decision possible, we thought we’d pass on some useful links that have helped us save money so far (and hopefully a lot more in the future) and might help you as well.  Of course, this is definitely not complete, so if you know of any more, please post a comment with your suggestions.

Our newest favorite is eBates, where you get cash back for purchases you make online.  The percentage of cash back varies by store, but we recently used it for some purchases at NewEgg and we got a check in the mail for $15!  Not bad, huh?  All you do is log in to eBates as a starting point, then search for the store that you want to shop at, click through to that store and shop away.  Oh, and you can still use coupon codes at your destination store–how’s that for a double whammy?!

Speaking of coupon codes, our favorite site for those is RetailMeNot.com.  Just enter the store in the search box and find all the coupon codes currently available (and whether or not they work).  We always check this site before every single online purchase and usually  get lucky and find at least one code that helps with our purchase.  Generally, we just write down the coupon code (to input later at checkout) instead of clicking through to it; that way, we can click through to the site from eBates and make use of both the cash back rebate as well as the coupon code.  How you like that?!

If you’re shopping for tech gadgets (such as computers, cameras, etc.), we recommend checking out TechBargains.com.  Consumer Reports recommends the site as an initial stop when shopping for high ticket items, and we recently found it to be a great resource when we bought our new laptop.  It basically lists “hot” deals every day from a bunch of different shopping sites, so it’s a good starting point in what can be a pretty overwhelming Internet shopping world, particularly for big ticket items.

Okay, so hopefully somebody finds this useful . . . and just think of what you can spend all that saved money on?  Maybe a house-warming gift for the Bunches?!  Aww–that’s so nice of you to think of us ;).

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